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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Finding Friends and Keeping Them

Today I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner as part of the "Build 'Em Up" series!

All of my life I have been more of a one-on-one type of friend rather than a big group of friends type person. I typically have one super tight bff and other casual friends but I mostly invest myself into that one friendship more than any others. Friendships were never too hard to find...as a girl it was my next door neighbor, Michelle. She was two houses down from me and we grew up together so it was a natural friendship!
Throughout school years my friendships formed in the classroom setting. Claire and I were besties all through middle school and have even continued to be friends into adulthood.
When I moved to Florida for my freshman year of high school Jonathan, my cousin, was that super tight friend. Another natural friend since we were family! Autumn was my best friend that I met in school and we were very close that entire year. That was a hard year for me and literally these two were my ONLY friends!
Once I moved back to Lawrenceville I fell back into the same friendships I'd had previously, Michelle and I remained close but I found my first love and was pretty much attached to his hip throughout high school. I had other friendships, but Mark was my WORLD and pretty much that relationship monopolized all of my time haha Yall know how it is with those high school boyfriends!
After Mark and I broke up I was free to find other friends and became very close to Taylor and Danielle. Danielle has been probably my longest running close friendship. While I still love and keep in touch with majority of my close friends from days past, Danielle and I have remained close friends even to the present. We don't get to see each other often but we keep in touch and get together when we can. We're blessed to be growing up and finding ourselves with more and more in common as we age!

In college Zach and I became serious during my freshman year so I was, again, in boyfriend mode haha. However, I was SO BLESSED to click so well with his friends. Ryan and Katie became our crew and the four of us were the most natural, fun group of friends we've ever found. We had so many great times together and had such a great friendship chemistry. All four of us were tight with each other and valued that close bond between us. It's sad that the crew didn't always stick together, but I'm so thankful for those memories and that I KNOW no matter what Katie is my friend for life!
After Zach and I got married I met Ashley. I actually met her at church...she was there by herself and so was I on a Sunday night and I told her how impressed I was with her for attending on her own and asked her if she wanted to grab dinner. I have NEVER had such an instant bond with someone in my life. We just were completely in-sync with each other. It's like we were sisters separated at birth or something haha. I have never loved a friend as much and as completely as I love her. We were inseparable and were the type of friends that probably drove everyone around us crazy because we were in our own little Ashley and Emily world haha. When our friendship wained it forever altered the way I view friendships. I don't think I'll ever have just ONE bff like that again. The three years of our friendship are times I truly treasure and I'm thankful to have known the type of bond like we had and I truly don't believe I'll find that again with a friend anytime soon. Now that I'm a mom and have children I can't devote the time and energy that I did into Ashley so I don't even know that if I found that kind of "soul mate" friendship again that I'd even be able to foster it! Ashley will always hold such a special spot in my heart and I will always, always love her!
While I have been blessed with wonderful relationships through the years, it has NOT been easy. I remember in college I would meet girls in my classes and try to make friends with them but none of them ever really developed. I believe it's harder to meet solid girl friends than it is to meet men haha. I mean I've never struggled in the guy department, but in the friend department? Most definitely I have!

Now that I'm a parent it's even harder to make new friends. I don't know WHAT I'd do without social networking. It's through blogging and facebook that majority of my current friendships have formed and developed and without those avenues I don't know that I'd have any friends at all haha! 

After my friendship with Ashley kinda fizzled I decided not to try to give my complete self to a friend like that again and to instead just focus on having lots of different friends. Ashley completed me in every single way and that's hard to find. Now I'm blessed that I have many very different types of friends who complete different areas of myself! All of my close friends are Christians and are moms with kids somewhere around the same ages as mine. We understand mommyhood and can totally relate to each other on all those types of issues. While I'm thankful to have such an amazing husband, I've found that the older I get, the MORE I need my female friends. We understand each other in a way that our husbands just don't get and I need to have the insight from these awesome women. I love that we can talk and talk and talk and never get bored and that we can vent to each other about anything and know we have the others best interest at heart. 

I've known Crissy for a long time as Zach and Seth were best friends in high school, our friendship really started to blossom as we became moms and I love that we always have so much FUN together. We have very similar bubbly personalities and know how to get crunk ;)
Other than Crissy, all of my current closest friends I met through BLOGGING. How awesome is that? I have a really, really hard time meeting friends in real life. I thought I'd have lots of friends since we moved into a very active neighborhood, but nope. I try to put myself out there at the playground and such but haven't had too much luck (I have made a couple of sweet friends and hope our bonds will develop more in the future!). I LOVE our church but, again, have struggled to make deeper connections there with other women. I think it's because many of the moms with kids the same ages as mine are older than me? Or maybe because many of the women have already all been friends for a long time so they aren't looking for anyone new? I also haven't had luck making friends from school...I even walk in to drop off and pick up Kye mostly every day but have yet to form any friendships from there either. Maybe all of those things will happen with time! We will see! But my lack of ability to meet friends on my own in real life settings make me even more thankful for blogging and the bonds I've formed from there.

Robyn contacted me from reading my blog several years ago and we started out having play dates together with our kids. That friendship has grown so much through the years and now we pretty much have a running text conversation going at all times ;) She's the friend I go to first with everything and I hope she feels the same way about me! I'm here for her always and am so blessed to have her in my life. I'm so thankful that she contacted me all those years ago :)
Kelly and Rachael and two others that I "met" through blogging. Rachael and I went to school together and were always casual friends but our blogging worlds are what made us good buddies. I love both of these girls SO much! 
I wish I had some amazing advice to offer about how to make friends, but I don't. I don't think it's something that is easy at all. I am outgoing and friendly and talk to everyone I meet like I've known them forever. I will even put myself out there and say "hey, let's hang out sometime!" but it rarely leads to anything more. As a parent I don't think I even have time to really make many new friends. It's hard enough to maintain the friendships I already have haha! Thank God for texting or else I don't know if I'd ever get to talk to people ;) 

I also think being a parent makes it difficult to find friends not just because we're all busy but because we all have such a variety of parenting styles. When those styles clash it's difficult to have playdates and hang out. And when they are similar styles it's still hard to have playdates and hang out because we are both probably revolving our day around our kids schedules haha. I think social media is really where it's at as far as mommy friendships go. Kids are sleeping? We can chat on Facebook. Day is busy? We can send a text. Have a little more time? We can vent via email or even a phone call. I rarely see majority of my friends face to face. Isn't that crazy? But I think it's more normal than most people would think. We are all very devoted to our children and our families and just struggle to find a lot of free time to spend with each other. I do make an effort to have Girls Nights Out as much as possible and am SO thankful for those chances to really connect. And I try to visit my out of town friends when I can too! 

For me, friendships have always been so important. I need friends in my life. It's essential for my personal growth and happiness and I know that having those bonds makes me a better wife and mother for my family. I love having friends and I love being a friend. I give my full self to my friendships (which has meant getting burned plenty of times in the past!) and I take so much pride in being able to be there for my friends in times of need.

I have never understood how people don't have friends or don't even really want them. Then I started getting closer to Zach's family and now I understand. Mrs. Charlotte hasn't really ever had many close friends outside of family. Same with Courtney and Casey. And I know why...they get that fulfillment from each other. They don't need to look for friendships outside of their family because they all complete each other so beautifully. I envy that as it's something I've never had myself in my own family life. As I've grown closer to the Parker women I am blessed to have those friendships as well. Mrs. Charlotte is truly one of my most favorite people in the entire world. She loves me unconditionally and completely and I'm so grateful to her for that!!!
I love that I've grown close to all of Zach's family, but I'm especially thankful for Casey! I knew when I first met her that we had a lot in common and that "click" like Ashley and I would later on but I was crashing the party and stealing her brother so it took us a few years to get to that point of becoming friends. I'm so thankful both of us let go of our past issues and were able to see what an awesome bond we share! It's such a blessing that Jordan and Zach are also friends and our bonds together remind me so much of our times with Ryan and Katie. I never thought we'd have that again but we are starting to now and it's so awesome because they are family so we know these friendships will never fade! I am so eager for them to become parents someday and I know that will only deepen our bonds together!
While meeting new friends is difficult for me, I don't think I struggle with keeping friends once I have them. I'm a pretty hardcore friend haha. I try to stay in touch often with people and try to be there for them in times of need. I think you know a friendship is true when you face times of trial and they stick beside you. When I do hit rough patches in friendships I try to just let things go the best I can. I don't like being angry and am pretty good at letting things slide off my back! I invest myself fully in my friendships and I think that's the best advice I can give as far as how to maintain those bonds. 

I also think that as life changes your friendships will also change. I used to hang out with Crissy and Robyn a TON more often than we do now. But Crissy has four kids and Robyn and I each have two. Hello, it's hard to get together when you have multiple babies. And I've learned that playdates are just for the KIDS and not really for the adults at ALL. We can barely talk to each other because we're so busy chancing our babies haha. Instead I've started having more GNOs and having one on one time together. As our children get older we may start having "play dates" again since they will be easier to manage but at this phase in life, GNO are where it's at! 

I also hope that someday my little family can be like the Parkers...that we can all be close and that we can fulfill a lot of each other's friendship needs. I do NOT believe in being friends with your kids though. I'm the parent. Britt is the child. We CANNOT be friends until she's an adult herself. I don't want to be her friend until then, I think so much of what is wrong with our world is that parents are trying so hard to be friends with their kids instead of parenting them. Zach and his dad are best friends now, but Zach would have never considered his dad his friend while he was growing up! I am looking forward to the day that Britt and I do get to become friends! I love seeing the bonds Mrs. Charlotte shares with her daughters (and now with me too!) and I can't wait for that phase in life with Britt. I also am praying that we can one day have a sister for Britt as I see the bonds Courtney and Casey share and I hope I can have daughters who can be close like that too!

As I get older I'm sure I will be less likely to have new friends. The more children I have the less time I will have to devote to friendships. My goal is to focus in on the TRUE friends I have now and to work on those relationships. This past year I've learned a lot about true love and about what that really means. I cherish my sweet friends. I also am learning to distinguish between friendships that are worth investing more into and those that aren't. I hope I can deepen the bonds with the friends I have and that these will be life-long bonds!         

How do you make friends? Do you agree that it's hard to find friends as a mom??? 

10 comments:

  1. It is hard to find friends as a Mom because we're all so busy with our families, but in some ways its easier.....if you have kids close to the same age, a park playdate is an easy way to get to know someone!


    I love how many of the pictures in this post involve ice cream of some kind....haha!

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  2. I really love the part about not being friends with your child! AMEN!!! I have just recently become friends with my mom and am so thankful for that now, but looking back an so glad she wasn't my "friend" growing up. (Even though I was jealous at that point of other girls who were friends with their mom, I now see it was very immature.)

    So funny you wrote this post. I was JUST thinking about my friends the other day and how much my friendships have changed. I totally get and appreciate people needing to focus on their own lives and am content knowing I can still "Pick right back up where we left off" my true friends even if I don't get to see them often. That's a part of what I value in a friend because that means we have a true connection in my opinion. :)

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  3. Hi Emily! Love your blog posts, read em everyday! I have one request though please! :)


    My friends and I LOVE reading about your family. Like, seriously. You have a beautiful family and I hope and pray to God that everyone finds a beautiful family like yours. I get confused sometimes though, with the big family and all! Have you or do you mind doing a post explaining your and Zach's families?


    Thank you, and God bless! Keep up the AMAZING dedication to your family and yourself... It's important to love yourself too! :)
    Shana

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  4. so glad you linked up with us today! and i enjoyed reading about all your friends. i agree - what would we do without Facebook? i have loved keeping relationships going that would have otherwise died due to busyness and life.

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  5. you're so sweet! I love our friendship so much :) even though you did pick a terrible picture of me, lol

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  6. true, I'm mostly kidding. mostly. ;)

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  7. love your post! you have some great friendships and it look like anyone would be lucky to have a friend like you!! thanks for sharing and for linking up with us this week!

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  8. I've actually had the exact opposite experience! Once we had our 6 month old daughter, it opened the door to many new friendships for my husband and me. We attend a very large church, so we are now in a new social circle with couples that we did not previously know very well. Also, I started attending MOPs, which is also a great way to meet new friends. Whenever we are out and about, people are constantly commenting on how adorable our daughter is, so she is an automatic conversation starter. Just a few ideas! :)

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  9. Thank you for an honest look at life- I too know the driving desire to have a BFF in each stage of life instead of a large group and the pain of losing such a friend down the line. It's good to know I'm not the only person who has done this!

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  10. LOVE this post - I think it's important to remember (for everyone!) that it's okay to have lots of friends vs. just ONE best friend. I try to LL already, "Daddy is my best friend. Aunt Laura is my best friend. Mrs. Emily is my best friend." just so she sees that you don't have to be tied down to just ONE person!


    And - duh - thanks for the warm fuzzies. :)

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Reading your comments makes my day!



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